By Mike Willis
The article appeared on page D-22, the last page of 30 September 1987 issue of The Indianapolis Star. The story was not headline news; rather it appeared under the section “People & Things.” A much needed lesson lies hidden in the story which I here reproduce and concerning which I now make comment.
Larry Flynt, the wheelchair-bound Hustler magazine publisher, had to be rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and have his stomach pumped after taking an overdose of drugs.
An ambulance raced to Flynt’s Hollywood Hills home just before 4 a.m. Tuesday to help Flynt, 44. He was later reported to be in stable condition. Hospital officials wouldn’t say what sort of drugs he had taken but a police spokesman said Flynt’s daughter, Lisa, 20, told officers that the overdose was an accident.
Flynt has been despondent since the death of his fourth wife, Althea, 33, who had AIDS and was found dead in a bathtub of the couple’s mansion on June 28. The Los Angeles County corner ruled she had accidentally drowned after taking drugs.
Althea once said Larry started taking drugs for the pain he suffered from an assassination attempt and that she started doing the same “to be like him.”
There is no rejoicing in any human’s suffering. Surely Larry Flynt is suffering! He is paralyzed as a result of an assassination attempt; he has endured three divorces; his wife suffered from AIDS; she drowned as a result of an overdose of drugs; he is despondent; he nearly died as a result of an overdose of drugs.
A Victim of His Own Lifestyle
Larry Flynt’s suffering has largely come as a result of his own free choice to live in defiance of the will of God. The Scriptures clearly forewarn mankind that sin leaves one’s life a shattered mess.
The fear of the Lord prolongeth days; but the years of the wicked shall be shortened (Prov. 10:27).
. . . the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them (Prov. 11:3).
. . . the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness (Prov. 11:5).
. . . he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh (Prov. 11:17).
Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner (Prov. 11:31).
Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed (Prov. 13:13).
. . . every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Matt. 7:26,27).
Mr. Flynt’s life has been spent in editing, publishing, and selling pornography. The Hustler magazine which he edits is reputed to be more hard core than Playboy or Penthouse. He has fought several court battles defending his civil right to publish and sell pornography. During these years, he amassed a financial empire. However, his financial successes have not protected him from divorce, his wife from AIDS or drug addiction.
He has sown to the wind and is now reaping the whirlwind. Like the prodigal son who found himself eating pig’s food, Flynt is suffering the fruits of his own choice of lifestyle. Flynt’s life is not attractive at the present. Whereas some might have looked at the way of sinners with envy while they are enjoying the pleasures of sin (Heb. 11:25), they are not envious when sinners reap the bitter harvest of sin. “The way of transgressors is hard” (Prov. 13:15).
God has given men free will. He has the power to choose good or evil. Our country has given man the liberty to choose whatever lifestyle pleases him. He can choose to believe in God and worship without governmental intervention. He can choose to reject God and wallow in moral filth. However, man cannot choose whether or not to accept the consequences of his choice. The consequences of our choices are inevitable. The man who chooses to be a homosexual cannot choose not to be separated from God by his sin and be susceptible to contacting the AIDS virus. These are the consequences of the lifestyle which one chooses.
The Deceitful Devil
As we witness the fall of Larry Flynt, we are also reminded that the Devil works to destroy the souls of man by promising fun, joy, happiness, and prosperity. He delivers sorrow, heartache, death, and destruction. Based on this newspaper clipping, would you conclude that Larry Flynt is happy? Although he has a financial empire, he does not appear to have inner peace, true joy, and contentment. His three divorces, confinement to a wheelchair, use of drugs, witnessing the suffering from AIDS and premature death of his wife (because of drowning while under the influence of drugs), and own despondency leads me to conclude that Larry Flynt is a miserable man. Should there be someone looking toward sin with longing eyes, thinking of how much fun he could have as a sinner, I would hope that Larry Flynt’s suffering would serve as a warning to him. Larry Flynt is the product which the Playboy lifestyle produces.
Jesus reminded us that the Devil “was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (Jn. 8:44). The Devil is working to slay Larry Flynt, just as he worked to slay Adam and continues to attack me and you. His purpose in life is to destroy the souls of men. He will promise man anything to accomplish that purpose. To prevent being deceived by the Devil’s promises, we must be sober and vigilant.
Affliction To Save From Eternal Death
We can be thankful that God has chosen to hedge in the way of the wicked with thorns and thistles. The sorrow which such suffering brings will save a few souls from eternal death. Only when the prodigal son was suffering the consequences of his sinful choices did he come to himself and return to his father. The destruction of the flesh which sin brings has the salvation of the soul as its goal (1 Cor. 5:5). If Larry Flynt can realize that his sorrow and suffering are a result of his disobedience to God, perhaps he might be led to the repentance without which no one can be saved. We hope that his heart is not so hardened by sin that even this cannot bring him to repentance.
The Forgiveness of God
The good news of Christ is that forgiveness is available to every sinner, whether he be the self-righteous Pharisee (Lk. 18:11-12), the woman caught in the act of adultery (Jn. 8:1-11), the drug pusher, or the kingpin of a pornography empire. In his grace and mercy, God provides pardon for sinners. “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sin; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him” (Psa. 103:8-13).
This is not a cheap grace. On God’s part the sacrifice of his Son on Calvary was necessary for the pardon to be effected. The sacrifice of the blood of animals could not atone for sin. The sacrifice of an ordinary man could not atone for sin inasmuch as man could only die for his own sins. The only way for atonement to be effected was by God to come in the form of a man and to sacrifice himself for sin.
This is not a cheap grace. Man’s forgiveness depends upon his repentance of sin. God does not offer to Larry Flynt (nor us) a forgiveness which allows him to continue publishing his pornographic magazine, to use body-destroying and mind-enslaving drugs, to divorce and remarry for any reason at all, or to abide in any sin. Forgiveness is conditioned upon repentance – a resolution to turn away from the practice of any sin and to turn toward the love and service of God. Larry Flynt cannot be a born again, saved, pornography publisher. If Larry Flynt is born again or saved, he will be come the former pornography publisher!
We would hope that this article would have a happy ending – an ending announcing that Larry Flynt had repented of his sins and obeyed the gospel. Knowing how sin entangles and enslaves, the likelihood of that ever happening is remote. Consequently, to hope that someone could benefit from reading what the Scriptures say about the way of the transgressor as he sees displayed in one man’s life the effect of sin is more realistic. I hope that good has been accomplished through this article.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 21, pp. 646, 660-661
November 5, 1987